Jimmie Johnson is ready to race Rolex 24 at Daytona in the lower category to earn the first watch

Jimmie Johnson Rolex 2023

Jimmie Johnson Rolex 2023

Jimmie Johnson could make his final start in a prototype on Saturday, but he could still drive sportscars at the Rolex 24 at Daytona and Le Mans in 2023.

Now that He has raced full-time in the NTT IndyCar Series, Johnson said this week that his top three priorities for 2023 are: 1) racing at the Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600 on the same day (commonly known as “The Double”); 2) the 24 Hours of Le Mans and 3) the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Win a Rolex 24 Long Has been a goal for Johnsonwho finished second overall in nine starts at the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season opener at Daytona International Speedway.

IMSA FINAL OF THE YEAR: Details on watching the Petit Le Mans

All of this belonged to the premier class, but with IMSA revamping and renaming the class next season (from DPi to GTP) it seems Johnson will have no place to return in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac. Johnson will team up with Kamui Kobayashi and Mike Rockenfeller for Saturday’s Petit Le Mans season finale, completing the second season of endurance racing for the Action Express entry.

“I know the landscape with the new prototype class that’s come out and quite frankly there just aren’t enough cars or seats available,” the seven-time Cup Series Champion said during a Zoom press conference on Tuesday. “That’s why I don’t see a chance in the first division, but I’m open to the other divisions on the track and would like to finally earn one of these watches.”

That could mean Johnson (who bought an engraved Rolex after winning the 2006 Daytona 500 but wants to earn a signature sports car racing trophy) will make his first appearance at Daytona next year in an LMP2 or LMP3 or maybe a GT car starts. He will have Carvana’s main sponsorship in tow next year, which he could presumably bring to a team.

The remainder of the seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion’s 2023 schedule has also yet to be solidified. But it seems that Johnson is almost a ban for a Le Mans 24 Hours debut in the lineup of the Garage 56 Next Gen Camaro, jointly fielded by Hendrick Motorsports and NASCAR.

“The rest is just early,” he said. “Discussions will continue on all fronts in the coming weeks. I still feel like I’m shortlisted for next year’s Garage 56 program at Le Mans and hope to get some clarity on that in the coming weeks or months. I wish I had more to report at this point. It’s really about not returning to IndyCar full-time, and now that I’ve made that decision and shared this news, I really feel like I’ll get some traction here and be able to continue my ’23 schedule to consolidate.

Depending on the interest he attracts, his options should be wide open. Having driven a Honda for the past two years and a Chevrolet for his more than 20 years in NASCAR, Johnson is not signed to any manufacturer or team next year.

Here’s what else Johnson said what he wants to do 23:

IndyCar: Although his IndyCar track record was much stronger on ovalsJohnson seems open to any part-time schedule.

“I’m running out of the specific events that are bucket list races (in IndyCar) and honestly that’s what led to my decision not to come all the way back,” Johnson said. “But I’m still open to doing circuits that I care about, races that I care about, and doing it with people and teams that I care about. So if something develops with Chip (Ganassi) that’s a mix of road and road courses and some ovals, I’m open to that. I’m open to just “the double” or the Indy 500 alone. I really have a blank sheet of paper and I’m curious to see what meaningful possibilities will develop and make sense.”

Although he is free to speak to other teams, Johnson said returning with Chip Ganassi Racing is his first choice, having raced with the team since 2021.

“I really only spoke to Chip,” he said. “At CGR I really feel like part of the family. When I’m at IndyCar, I really want to be there. I know this team. I know the inner workings. I feel like we’re working hard to continue the relationship together, so that would really be my intention if I was able to put something together and come back to IndyCar, I’d love it if it were there.

NASCAR: Johnson mentioned again that he was a past winner of The Clash and All-Star Race had previously granted him long-term eligibility for those events (NASCAR has since changed their criteria), so the Los Angeles and North Wilkesboro, NC shows are on his radar.

“I still have a few years to qualify for the Clash and the All-Star race, so I’m surprised no one has really asked or pushed hard until now,” he said. “I guess I was employed at IndyCar and people assume my schedule is full. But as I look ahead, those would be easy opportunities to come back, but to be honest, I’ve never had an in-depth, serious conversation with anyone on either of those fronts.

“I would like to go to Wilkesboro. I’ve never driven on this circuit before. Lowe’s corporate offices were just down the road, so I drove past them often. I went on a long bike ride with Matt Kenseth and some friends a few years ago and actually rode my bike around the track. So I would love to return in a real race car and event one day and I hope that opportunity can develop.”

Trackhouse Racing’s Project 91 (which put Kimi Raikkonen in Cup racing at Watkins Glen International) would allow Johnson’s return to stock cars.

“Justin is a longtime friend and someone I keep in touch with, and he’s certainly made it known that the Project 91 car is available if I’m interested,” Johnson said. “So I’d have to keep those conversations going.”

-“The lookalike”: In an attempt to become the first driver since Kurt Busch in 2014 to complete 1,100 miles at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway on the same day, Johnson believes the logistics should be simpler. He won’t have a full-time commitment to either IndyCar or NASCAR, and the reduced Cup schedule for practice and qualifying should free up more time.

“We’ve had a lot more activity on track for both series than drivers have done in the past, certainly on the NASCAR side,” Johnson said. “I think the way the NASCAR format works now, there are fewer questions at the moment. So I feel like the potential is there to put myself out there and have enough physical time to pull it off. I think the reduced schedule and not running the full IndyCar schedule will give me the time I need before and after to seriously focus and give everything I can and need to do my best in both races to perform.”

Jimmie Johnson is ready to race Rolex 24 at Daytona in the lower category to earn the first watch originally appeared on NBCSports.com

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *